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How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life: An Unexpected Guide to Human Nature and Happiness

July 26, 2017 - Comment

How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life: An Unexpected Guide to Human Nature and HappinessRate this post A forgotten book by one of history’s greatest thinkers reveals the surprising connections between happiness, virtue, fame, and fortune. Adam Smith may have become the patron saint of capitalism after he penned his most famous work, The Wealth

How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life: An Unexpected Guide to Human Nature and Happiness
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A forgotten book by one of history’s greatest thinkers reveals the surprising connections between happiness, virtue, fame, and fortune.

Adam Smith may have become the patron saint of capitalism after he penned his most famous work, The Wealth of Nations. But few people know that when it came to the behavior of individuals—the way we perceive ourselves, the way we treat others, and the decisions we make in pursuit of happiness—the Scottish philosopher had just as much to say. He developed his ideas on human nature in an epic, sprawling work titled The Theory of Moral Sentiments.

Most economists have never read it, and for most of his life, Russ Roberts was no exception. But when he finally picked up the book by the founder of his field, he realized he’d stumbled upon what might be the greatest self-help book that almost no one has read.

In How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life, Roberts examines Smith’s forgotten masterpiece, and finds a treasure trove of timeless, practical wisdom. Smith’s insights into human nature are just as relevant today as they were three hundred years ago. What does it take to be truly happy? Should we pursue fame and fortune or the respect of our friends and family? How can we make the world a better place? Smith’s unexpected answers, framed within the rich context of current events, literature, history, and pop culture, are at once profound, counterintuitive, and highly entertaining.

By reinvigorating Smith’s neglected classic, Roberts provides us with an invaluable look at human behavior through the lens of one of history’s greatest minds.

Comments

T.S. Daily says:

Surprisingly good book I’m not usually in the habit of reading books on 18th century economist-philosopher’s 2nd most famous work, but I like Russ Roberts a lot, and gave it a chance. Glad I did. Russ is thoughtful, and comes across as a genuinely good person. Adam Smith is surprisingly prescient for someone writing in 1759. 

Alejandro Gaviria says:

Lovely book This book is a good introduction to the ideas of Adam Smith in particular and of the thinkers of the Scottish Enlightenment in general. The book can be read as a long explanation to an interesting paradox: Smith’s pessimism about human nature and his contrasting optimism about human society and human organizations. 

Johnny & Riza says:

Thoughtful and Interesting While everyone thinks of Adam Smith as the author of Wealth of Nations, Roberts plumbs the depths of his first book, The Theory of Moral Sentiments. I actually read Wealth of Nations. My first economics course assigned several sections and I just read the whole thing. His prose is indeed a bit dense for the modern reader but I enjoyed it. I went back recently to read Theory of Moral Sentiments and stopped a third of the way through. I don’t know if I have lost my appreciation for turgid or…

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